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SOPA: The Bill That May Start A Cyber War

Congress, your playing with fire. Your well-intentioned idea has been mismanaged, and turned into something that will permanently damage the country is. Congress has overlooked the ramifications of passing SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), an act that may cost them that $100 billion (a made up number, by the way) they are trying to recover for their constituents. I want to make this perfectly clear: If this bill passes, there will be a cyber war unlike any we may have had with China or Iran — this time, it will be from your own people.

SOPA is designed to stop piracy and copyright infringement on the Internet — but it goes about it in a disastrous way. Adam Dachis of Lifehacker described the affects of the bill perfectly:

“If Lifehacker happened to have an article or two that could be interpreted as piracy-friendly, our domain could be blocked so it’s unaccessible by visiting lifehacker.com. What the bill can’t do is block numeric IP addresses, so you could still access Lifehacker, or any other site that could be censored, if you knew that address. This is important because it means this bill can’t do much to stop downloaders of pirated content. If a domain name is blocked, everything will still work via the numeric IP address. Basically, the bill will be no good at stopping piracy—what it was apparently designed to do—but excellent at censoring any web site capable of providing its users with the means of promoting pirated content or allowing the process. This includes sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and many more. If it’s possible to post pirated content on the site, or information that could further online piracy, a claim can be brought against it. This can be something as minor as you posting a copyrighted image to your Facebook page, or piracy-friendly information in the comments of a post such as this one. The vague, sweeping language in this bill is what makes it so troubling.

AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga sent a letter to congress, stating,

“We support the bills’ stated goals — providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign “rogue” websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting.  Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites. We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity.”

Alyson Shontell of Business Insider spoke to the power that would be given to the government under this bill:

“That means the Attorney General would have the power to cut off select websites from search engines like Google. It could also cut off advertisers and payment processors like Visa from the sites. The Attorney General could essentially kill all of a site’s traffic and revenue in a matter of days.

SOPA only allows targeted sites five days to submit an appeal. That doesn’t leave much time for them to defend themselves before losing their site and their revenue altogether.”

When your plan is to operate the Internet like China and Iran, it is not a well thought out idea.

The one segment of the Internet — the most powerful one — that has not been considered are hackers. Those of their ilk are watching the situation with trepidation. Groups like Anonymous haven’t bothered the U.S government in their quest for freedom, but this will drastically change if this bill is passed. What I hear from some talented ‘computer users’ is,

“If this passes, the gloves come off.”

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  1. Pingback: SOPA: A Word of Warning to Congress « Current Editorials

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